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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - An organization that analyzes Missouri financial issues has begun running a radio ad against legislation that would cut state income taxes while raising the sales tax.

 

The Missouri Budget Project said Tuesday that this marks the first time in its 10-year history that the St. Louis-based nonprofit has paid for ads against a policy proposal.

 

The ad targets legislation scheduled for a House committee hearing Tuesday that would cut income taxes by three-quarters of a percentage point while increasing the sales tax by a half cent. The bill already has passed the Senate.

 

The Budget Project claims the measure could reduce state revenues by $960 million annually once fully implemented. Other legislative estimates have put the cost at almost half that amount.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Newly obtained records show that Missouri senators were informed two years ago about a new driver's license system but were not briefed about one of its most controversial aspects.

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Republicans have complained about the new system in which applicants' personal documents, such as birth certificates and concealed weapons endorsements, are scanned and retained in a state computer system.

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Audio records reviewed by The Associated Press show that members of the Senate Appropriations Committee were briefed in 2011 about the new licensing procedures but were never told that applicants' documents would be scanned and retained in a state database.

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Republican lawmakers have accused the department of sharing that information with the federal government or a private company. Revenue Department officials have denied that charge in legislative committee hearings.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — State lawmakers have sent to Governor Jay Nixon an extra budget for the current fiscal year which includes a $14 million increase for a fund that reimburses schools for the cost of special needs children.

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The "High Needs" fund pays schools for students that cost more than three times the amount of a typical student in the same district.

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The spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says the fund typically increases by about 10 percent every year, but this year's increase is 18 percent, which she called "unusual."

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The cost increase isn't only because there are more kids with special needs. School districts have also been getting better at documenting high-cost students and collecting the reimbursement money.

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House has passed a nearly $25 billion budget that would fund modest increases for public education but not the Medicaid expansion sought by Gov. Jay Nixon.

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House approval of the budget Thursday sends it to the Senate, where more changes are likely.

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The 2014 budget plan would provide a roughly 2 percent increase in basic aid for public K-12 schools, colleges and universities. But school funding would still fall $620 million short of what's called for under a state formula.

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Missouri's Tourism Division would get one of the largest percentage increases in the budget - from nearly $14 million this year to almost $20 million next year.

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The budget leaves out more than $900 million of federal funds that Nixon had recommended for a Medicaid expansion.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is continuing to push for a Medicaid expansion, but he's open to alternatives that could use federal money to buy private insurance for lower-income adults.

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Nixon said in an interview Thursday that he's willing to consider an Arkansas model that would use Medicaid money to purchase policies through an online insurance exchange created under President Barack Obama's health care law.

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The 2010 law called for states to expand Medicaid to adults earning up to 138 percent of poverty, or $32,500 for a family of four. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year made that optional for states.

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Nixon is visiting Hermann and Perryville to build support for a Medicaid expansion. Republican legislators have rejected his plan. But Nixon says he hopes for a compromise.

 

Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering bill that would allow lottery winners to remain anonymous after claiming their prizes.

 

   Sponsoring Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, of Black Jack, told the House Local Government Committee Thursday that winning the lottery can subject a person to hardship. Her measure would prevent the Missouri Lottery from releasing the names or addresses of prize winners without their written consent.

   Officials from the Missouri Lottery say revealing a winner's identity provides legitimacy to games and helps sell more tickets. The names of lottery winners are also subject to Missouri's Sunshine Law, making identity information available to open records request.

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Dozens of people are rallying at the Missouri Capitol for what a gay and lesbian group is promoting as "Equality Day."

The gathering in Jefferson City coincides with the second day of U.S. Supreme Court arguments focused on whether same-sex couples can marry and receive the legal rights and benefits associated with marriage.

Some rally participants in Missouri asserted that it is "immoral" to ban gay marriage, as is the case under the state constitution.

Rally participants also focused on bills that would prohibit discrimination or school bullying based on sexual orientation.

The event was coordinated by Promo, an organization that advocates for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.

Several Democratic lawmakers attended the event.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A mother, father and grandmother who all grieved over the deaths of infants have testified on Missouri legislation to limit the number of young children who can be watched in home day cares.

The bill presented Tuesday before a House committee would change a Missouri law that exempts the relatives of child-care providers from being counted toward the requirements for state licensure. The bill would require licensure for anyone watching more than four children of preschool age or younger, so long as they are being paid for watching at least one of those children.

The bill is called "Nathan's Law," in remembrance of a suburban St. Louis baby who died in 2007 in a home day care. Nathan's mother, Shelley Blecha, was among those testifying for the bill.
Published in Local News
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (AP) - It isn't just Illinoisans who are closely watching a bill in the Illinois House that would regulate fracking. Missouri mining organizations have a keen interest, too.

The Southeast Missourian reports that the Missouri mining industry stands to gain from an increased need for silica sand, which is used in the process of large-scale hydraulic fracturing - or fracking.

Missouri is not an abundant resource of oil or natural gas, but it is a resource for silica sand. The silica sand is critical for the process of fracking.

Environmentalists in Missouri say there is concern that expanded sand mining will cause environmental damage.

The January 2013 Mineral Commodity Summary by the U.S. Geological Survey says Missouri is the sixth-largest producer of industrial sand and gravel.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Some supporters of a Medicaid expansion championed by President Barack Obama are also embracing a Republican alternative put forth in the Missouri House.

Among the witnesses testifying for the Republican plan Monday in a House committee were officials representing medical clinics, hospitals and business groups. Some of those same people have stood by Democrats in recent weeks as they embraced a proposed Medicaid expansion for lower-income adults.

But Missouri's Republican-led committees have repeatedly defeated the Medicaid expansion backed by Obama and Democrats.

The alternative by Republican Rep. Jay Barnes would cover fewer additional adults than Obama's version while also removing some children from the Medicaid rolls. Medicaid recipients would be covered through competitively bid managed care policies and could get cash incentives for holding down their health expenses.
Published in Local News

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